At the end of FY10, I found myself without a NASA assignment. Due to the general uncertainty at NASA, I could either “take classes and surf the web”, or embark on a year long personal and professional development journey. Prodded by the 4-D course my Project Management Office had and the opportunity to take US Army’s Advanced Leadership Investment for the future Program, I chose to embark on the year long journey. This presentation is the result of that journey. AEDC is the United States Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center.
First, a little background of where I found myself. I am going to cover a few elements of the “Perfect Storm” I found myself in. I had a lot of personal uncertainty at the same time that NASA was going through agency uncertainty. I was definitely not alone. Thousands of people we worked with daily were let go. I had spent the last few years of my NASA career working on intra center assignments. I built a network across the agency, but I haven’t really spent a lot of time networking at my own center.
I had developed “soft skills” over the years that don’t necessarily gave me any technical street credibility. I had learned to plan, conduct, and analyze strategic planning workshops from a guy name Matt Taylor. Arnold Engineering Development Center brought Matt Taylor in to start the “Gossick Leadership Center”, a center dedicated to navigating AEDC through a period of uncertainty. Matt taught us how to sit with the customer, look at their issue/needs, and develop an interactive workshop utilizing group activities to develop a plan to address the issue. We spend LOTS of time planning, reviewing with the customer, days conducting the workshop, and days analyzing the results of the workshop. The “we” refers to me and a pretty large group of people. I learned a lot from that experience, and a desire to streamline it. Others did too. A group of co-workers took the process down to Stennis, where some of you may have experience this “workshop” process. Of course I have other experiences from design reviews in industry and APPL classes, that I just wanted to try out some of these “soft skills”. The process I was taught at AEDC was very labor intensive, where every word was captured down on audio tape, video tape and hypertiles. I started to use elements of this process in minimalistic ways during my last project.
Over my 12 years at NASA I’ve been very fortunate to get lots of leadership courses, including two OPM classes and the 4-D classes/assessments. Included in these classes are lots of personal assessments to bring about more awareness of my own personality and how I interact with other peoples’ personalities. I’ve taken the 4-D assessment 3 times over 8 years and I have seen a drastic improvement in my scores and my confidence. I have taken the Meyers Briggs, FIRO-B, ethical etc. All in a journey to learn more about myself and how I interact with other people’s personalities.
In earned a Ph.D. in Engineering Science, with a concentration in Laser Materials Processing, in 2001. I have tried over the years to get into the Metal Engineering Division, but it never happened. Through a series of interviews, I got to know the Division Manager. He liked the vision for partnerships that I had for the division, so he asked me if I wanted to do a detail to the Metal Engineering Division. I went to talk it over with my supervisor, and we both thought it would be a good opportunity for me and our project office. I jumped at the chance to start the new year in a new organization. An organization that wanted me for my technical skills, my soft skills and my broad experience base.
I had tried two year in a row to get into the NASA’s mid level leadership program, but I wasn’t the right person and the right time. During the debrief process, I was offered the chance to take the AMCOM’s Advanced Leadership Investment for Tomorrow. I jumped at the opportunity. I many ways it was like going home to a familiar environment, the military. My experience was USAF, and that was before desert storm, so I did have to learn a new military environment. The Army has a leadership field manual that documents a very detailed thesis on leadership. While the examples are straight from the war zone, the basic elements are very relevant to all government service, it also puts in one place all elements in modern leadership. Each chapter is basically a different book we were given at OPM or APPL courses, just in a one place. The program also continued personal assessments, a couple I had before and many I didn’t. I found myself taking out all my assessments for the last 12 years and summarizing them. Through the assistance of my classmates and facilitators, I found out that I am pretty much a well rounded leader, able to fit in pretty much any situation, but there are some leadership positions that I am better suited for that others. One particular class assignment really showed me that I play a very important roles on a high functioning team, a am the arranger who then turns into the catalyst that pulls in the strengths of the others to get the job done. I am not necessarily the team leader, but I am the team planner /catalyst.
What made this the perfect opportunity was the opportunity to talk regularly to someone who doesn't judge me, who is just there to help me develop both professionally and personally. That person was Melinda, my 4-D coach. I first met Melinda after the first time I took the 4-D assessment. We met for a few weeks in 2003/2004, during a job transition period, but as soon as I got a new assignment I “Didn’t have the Time” for coaching. This time, again during a job transition period, I got the opportunity to get back in touch with Melinda. This was truly all the plants aligning for a life changing year long development journey. Melinda, also, had me take a strength /weakness assessment (similar to the one I took in Adv LIFT), but their were BIG differences in the tool approaches. Melinda’s tool addressed the impact of working away from your natural strengths, the other tool did not.
My two supervisors and I worked up a formal detail agreement to clearly state what I was going to achieve. Up front it looked pretty easy to accomplish in six months, or so I naively thought. One concept from my ADV LIEFT class that intrigued me, was the concept of servant leadership. It was so radically different from what I had experienced in my 26 years in the Aerospace Industry, the authoritative leader. Reorienting myself to this concept seemed like the best way for me to adjust my own leadership behavior, so I decided to apply Servant Leadership Principles to my detail.
From an overall view, I saw servant leadership principles as a way to address my lower EQ skills. To increase self-regulation and social skills, I needed to consistently remind myself that my function was to serve my new organization by facilitating their work, their mission, vision, and goals. When I am focused on a task and someone comes into my office to discuss a great idea, my function was to stop, listen, and facilitate that person moving toward the organization’s vision. I am an INTJ/INFJ Meyers Brigg, so I like being a strategist and energizer (S&E), I like to see the future and engage/develop other people. The negative side is that INTJ/INFJ can be so mission oriented that they can appear to be unmoving to the people or environment around them, so the V part of the Servant leadership can help balance out the S&E. My other strengths are I am an arranger with the ability to switch to a catalyst when the planning is right. On my 4-D I am naturally a Yellow (including), adapted to an orange (directing) and I can comfortably swing blue (Visioning). Green (cultivating) in my challenge area. I can do a lot my analysis on myself, but the bottom line is that Servant Leadership Principles use my strengths (and comfort leadership areas), but also provides a method for balancing/addressing my weakness (less comfort leadership areas).
The organization was in a information vacuum, NASA was in a turmoil. This particular technical organization was heavily involved with the Shuttle, but wanted to have some sort of input to their future. This technical organization was relatively small, and had always worked well together and with other organizations in a support function. The organization just grew from a branch to a division, so there was some need to establish branch identifies. The Division Manager had a strong desire to do strategic planning, but needed someone to lead the charge, and he felt very strongly about full participation from everyone in the division. While the bottoms up approach is not in the strategic planning text books, it did bring in the concepts that I learned in all my leadership classes. At the time, we felt strongly that it was the right thing to do, in hindsight, it simply was based on the values this organization holds dearly. Those values are Customer Focused, Teamwork, Integrity and Trust, Innovation and Creativity, and Technical Excellence.
There are many leadership books that compile the bottoms up approach, just as there are many Strategic Planning Books that start with “bring all your division, department managers together”.
We planned out a series of workshops with each branch, the entire division, and the division leadership, that were designed to do both organizational development and strategic planning. We limited our scope to our organization, but identified opportunities for partnership. We also felt it was important to report back to the division and branches the results and status of the strategic planning, in a timely manner. It was very important for the division leadership to let the team members know that we hear them and what we did with their inputs.
We basically used a streamline version of the process I learned at AEDC and that was brought to Stennis by Jacobs. It was designed to allow for individual inputs and to have table discussions. The SWOT analysis was designed from two standard text book SWOTs with a grading system added to force frank table discussion. We wanted to form branch and division identities with the traditional strategic planning process driving that, but we also wanted to come to an understanding of where the division technical capabilities were to get an idea of what technical topics the division should focus our proposal/partnership activities on. While we did have a resulting set of metallic materials and metallic materials processing ranked topics, this process educated the whole division on the division capabilities. That knowledge expansion allows the division to take advantage of opportunities to partnership that were never planned.
Of course, I spoke often with my 4-D coach, especially as she plans workshops/classes on a regular basis. Her own work has been on providing hope to organizations. We had a synergy moment when both our current activities came together.
This light bulb moment gave me, an Ph.D engineer, a concert methodology to get to a intrinsic “thing” that drives the human spirit! It is this special moments with other division members that I do “see” hope in their eyes, that I realized what the strategic planning book I used the most, “Strategic Planning for Dummies” meant when it said that ½ the value of the strategic plan is not the final piece of paper, but the effect the process has on the organization.
The hydrogen embrittlement story. One man’s technical passion, meets another man’s need at a UAH presentation.
USAF partnership. Study that allowed a new team member to come quickly up to speed.
One engineer volunteered to lead the outreach activities. I get regular emails, suggestions that benefit the division, our lab and our center.
Important to keep the communication process going. I still do regular reports back to the division team members (plus a whole lot of others).
1. Providing Hope In Troubled Times Through Strategic Planning Dr. Terri L. Tramel 2011 NASA PM Challenge 1
2. Disclaimer• Fully realize that strategic planning responsibility for the agency lies with NASA HQ – 2010 NASA Strategic Plan was used as the basis of all division strategic planning.• Fully realize that many other planning activities are going on around the division, – strategic planning can be a great organizational development tool – great tool for assisting the division in competitive proposal processes 2
3. Perfect Storm NASA Uncertainty AEDC Strategic Personal Planning Uncertainty Workshops NASA APPLOPM Leadership CoursesCourses Industry Experience 4-D Professional Coach Golden US Army’s Opportunity- Leadership Detail to Metals Investment for Engineering to the Future exercise strategic planning skills 3
4. Perfect Storm• Personal Uncertainty – Found myself without an assignment – Found myself without a MSFC safety net – I had no idea what role I’d have at NASA or MSFC• NASA Uncertainty – No Ares, No Shuttle, No Technology – NASA roles were changing – No idea what direction congress/administration were going to move NASA toward 4
5. Perfect Storm• Arnold Engineering Development Center, AEDC Strategic Planning Workshops – Trained how to plan and conduct strategic planning workshops on a large scale – Embarrassed to let anyone at MSFC know I could plan/facilitate strategic planning workshops – Process was too complicated, expensive and needed streamlining• Industry Experience- Technicians and engineers involved with design reviews improved designs• NASA APPl Courses – Leading Through Effective Communication – Project Management, Adv Project Management – Lesson’s Learned, System Engineering 5
6. Perfect Storm• OPM Leadership Courses – Leadership Potential – Leadership Assessment• 4-D Leadership Course/Assessments – 1st Assessment in 2003, coach for a few months – 2nd Assessment in 2010, coach for over a year now – Naturally a yellow style(Including-bring integrity to relationships, and build teams) – Developed a NASA orange style (Directing-take organized action, direct others toward results) 6
7. Perfect Storm-Perfect Opportunity• Developmental Detail to MSFC Metal Engineering Division – A chance to completely submerse myself in a new environment, to actually carve out a place for myself – A chance to actually put into use all these skills I’ve developed and learned – A chance to implement a bottoms up strategic planning process that I’ve been thinking about for years • Technicians, engineers, managers all involved with planning – An Engineering Organization that really wanted my skill set and willing for me to try out this strategic planning process! – Two wonderful supervisors willing to give me a chance • An opportunity to use 2011 as a developmental year • Transition charge codes – A great bunch of technically passionate people 7
8. Perfect Storm-Perfect Opportunity• Army’s Advanced Leadership Investment for the Future Program – 10 Month program, met once a month, class project, and senior leaders came in to talk. Sponsored by 3 star general deputy. – Based on Army’s Field Manual on Leadership – Army culture requires leadership development at all levels. Performance appraisals assess your activities in “building the bench”. – Many leadership assessments (EQ, DISC, and Strengths Finder) – Great people in the class from many different Army leadership positions – Class project is eMentorship (web based mentoring tool) – Call at graduation was to give back – I found my role/strengths in a team, as a leader • Arranger/catalyst/enjoy new challenges/mission focused/enabler 8
9. Perfect Storm-Perfect Opportunity• Melinda, my 4-D coach – Helped me turn the uncertainty into a positive opportunity – Talk for one hour about every two weeks – Strengths Assessment- using your strengths and building your unrealized strengths energize you – Advisor for workshop designs – Provided me with a sounding board during this year long professional and personal journey (I knew I wasn’t alone) 9
10. The Detail Plan1. Identify all legal/procurement/process/policy constraints for strategic planning2. Develop EM30 Brochure3. Develop EM30 Partnership Survey4. Assist EM30 in Developing a Development Vision5. Proposal Calendar6. Develop Partnership Working Groups7. Develop a EM30 Research and Development Strategic Plan (Vision, Mission, Values, Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps)• My decision to apply Servant Leadership Principles (from Adv LIFT Program) 10
11. Servant Leadership Principles• A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks himself how he can help them to solve problems and promote personal development. It requires a understanding of identity, mission, vision and environment.• The Servant Leader, by James A. Autry, published by Three Rivers Press, 2004• Leading at a Higher Level, by Ken Blanchard, published by Blanchard Management Corporation, 2010, Chapter 14. – S: See the Future – E: Engage and Develop People – R: Reinvent Continuously – V: Value Results and Relationships – E: Embody the Values 11
12. Why We Choose a Bottoms Up Approach• Everyone in EM30 has something to bring to the table (EM30’s culture)• There was a strong desire to provide input to management (by the team members) because of the NASA uncertainty• Lessons learned from my industry days and AEDC experience• Servant Leadership Principles• Lessons learned from Adv LIFT classes 12
13. Support for a Bottoms Up Approach• “Most adults don’t like being told where to go and what to do. They want to feel part of the process” (A Leaders Legacy, by Jim Posner and Barry Posner, published by Jossey-Bass, 2006.• Inclusive strategic planning process addresses the six stages of concern people going through change experience :refinement, collaboration, impact, implementati on, personal and information. (Leading at a Higher Level, by Ken Blanchard, published by Blanchard Management Corporation, 2010, Chapter 11.• “Humans are naturally tribal with deep needs to feel we belong to groups” (How NASA Builds Teams by Charles Pellerin, Wiley Press, 2009• “People need to Feel Included by You” (How NASA Builds Teams by Charles Pellerin, Wiley Press, 2009, Chapter 14 13
14. Strategic Planning Process We UsedAnalyze Our Partners Analyze Our Organization• Their needs • Vision• Their potential growth • Mission• Our relationship with them • Values• Educating other of our • Goalscapabilities • Action Steps• Modifying our processes Objectively • Shine the mirror at ourselves• In the FY12 environment • Facilities process the• Prioritization of potential • Expertise (People)topics through SWOT information • Current Experience • Past Experience Leg 3 • Stretch Potential The Strategic Plan 14
15. Workshop Approach• Workshop Planning Branch #1 Branch #2 • Upfront know what you want Workshop Workshop the workshop take a ways to be • Plan and anticipate group Report to team members Report to team members dynamics – use seating charts • Review the workshop plan and exercises with the Division customer Workshop • Prepare an extra exercise or two Report to team members • Facilitate the workshop for full participation Division • Let the energy of the Leadership workshop flow Workshop Report to team members Report to lab management 15
16. “You Have To Provide Hope”• Melinda said “What you are really trying to do in the workshops is to provide Hope, I’ll send you a paper.”• Hopeful Leadership In Challenging Times, by Melinda Sinclair and Karen McKnight, Future Smart Leader, 2010.• Hopeful thinking leads to more positive behaviors, increase performance, increase health and general well being, and increased business measures.• Hope=(Goals+Pathways+Resources)XConnections 16
17. Terri’s Light Bulb Moment• Look at the “soft side” equation from a different perspective, the strategic perspective• Hope = groups emotional attachment (shared commitment)to the group vision• Goals = strategic plan goals• Pathways = strategic objectives• Resource= organizational capabilities and expertise• Connections = relationship with partners• You can instill HOPE into an organization by an organizationally inclusive strategic planning process 17
18. Workshop Surprises• “Technicians won’t participate”-Technicians actually led table brief outs• “The curmudgeon won’t participate”- The curmudgeon was a enthusiastic participant, was found smiling the next day, and continues to bring ideas for improvement to me.• Several individuals submitted ideas for technology development topics that were for other subject matter experts.• Several of the technical topics have been submitted for recent calls• Several non-planned issues arose: organizational barriers, generational differences, partnership with local community colleges• The passion for the collective core mission and the NASA mission support came through loud and clear• The full participation by EVERY team member was apparent 18
19. Bottom’s Up Benefits To The Organization• Having common vision, mission, values and goals makes technical debates more productive and professional• Suggestions keep coming in and come from surprising places – Diversity and Inclusion• Bring in work that matches peoples passion really makes them feel appreciated 19
20. Results to Date-Strategic Actions• We have a draft Division Strategic Plan, but it has not been signed.• The plan has a checklist that we are basically working through (with management acknowledgement)• Entire organization is working on relationship building• We have new Space Act Agreements in strategic areas• We are looking at how we fit into our lab, center, NASA, industry partners, and other government partners. 20
21. Results to Date-Organizational• Division manager and I have been asked to perform strategic planning activities at the lab level• Other division and branches are asking for assistance in strategic planning.• Division manager has incorporated goals we learned from the Army Adv LIFT Program into all of our leadership folks performance appraisals.• Team members feel that their ideas are being heard and used by the Division and Lab management.• I get regular visits by team members – Candy bowl helps 21
22. The Detail Plan Results1. Identify all legal/procurement/process/policy constraints for strategic planning (Constantly evolving activity, we’ve done some trail blazing)2. Develop EM30 Brochure (Complete)3. Develop EM30 Partnership Survey (2010 survey complete)4. Assist EM30 in Developing a Development Vision (complete)5. Proposal Calendar (OSAC has this)6. Develop Partnership Working Groups (About 5 going at different levels)7. Develop a EM30 Research and Development Strategic Plan (Vision, Mission, Values, Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps) (Draft complete, implementing the checklist)8. I was asked to stay! I found a home.• My decision to apply Servant Leadership Principles (from Adv LIFT Program) (I feel it has helped me develop strong relationships with the team members, lab management, other center organizations, and center management) 22
23. Results to Date-Personally• I got to look in that mirror, it wasn’t fun, but it was a path to self realization.• I find myself wanting to find opportunities that allow me to be the planner and then the catalyst for execution of the mission.• I realize that trying to be the leader that I believed NASA wanted me to be was going to drain me, and I wouldn’t be happy. Being the leader I am naturally is energizing.• My emotional quotient was higher that the national average and much higher than the average engineer!• I still need to learn how to write a short, concise, understandable plans.• I would like to get more training as a facilitator 23
24. Golden Nuggets• Take advantage of opportunities, those you make and those that come unexpectedly.• Don’t be embarrassed of your “soft skills”, learning how to conduct strategic planning processes is OK in a technical organization• People come in all different packages, letting them use their natural strengths to contribute to the organization, it improves morale.• Report back to the workshop participates in a timely fashion, let them know how their inputs were used• You can instill HOPE into an organization by an organizationally inclusive strategic planning process• An inclusive strategic planning progress embraces the goals of Diversity and Inclusion, everyone is heard no matter what their background. 24
25. Conclusion• During times of turmoil, make the time to strengthen your organization• Strategic planning is NOT producing a plan that no one reads, but can be a process to pull your people together toward a common vision, to accomplish a common mission, in a manner consistent with common values, with everyone given a voice in the process.• Collectively understanding each other’s skills and passions, allows the organization to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.• The strategic planning process can be used to give hope to an organization during trouble times. 25